Covid opens up new audiences for professional speakers

The Covid pandemic has wreaked havoc on both the event industry and its affiliated supply chains, with the professional speaker circuit no exception.

Tony Eades, president of Professional Speakers Australia (PSA), says that “online is here to stay” for the foreseeable future.

“While it’s positive to see numbers easing in most states, these figures – combined with social distancing rules, still make it difficult to stage viable live corporate events, workshops, training, conferences and functions,” he said.

“Our whole business model has changed. Even our PSA annual convention next year will be staged online.  And while we miss the human interaction of live events, the dramatic growth in audiences – with our speakers regularly presenting to hundreds of thousands of viewers, and some even topping a million – means that online will undoubtedly remain part of the mix post Covid.  There is no way those kind of numbers would have been reached before we had this dramatic shift to online.”

Eades says that many speakers have adapted quickly delivering online teaching, courses and modules.

“As much as the word is overused, the pivot to online that public speakers in Australia have achieved has been incredible,” he said.

“While sales of halo lights and green screens for home-studio set-ups surged, the move online was made in varying degrees of success across many industries. Professional speakers and trainers proved their value to businesses needing to connect with customers and staff – and as a result we’ve found the move online has created new opportunities and demand.”

Professional Speakers Australia has supported members throughout the pandemic via a monthly National Virtual Event, featuring some of Australia’s best professional speakers and renowned names from the US sharing their learnings and advice, as well as Speaking for a Crisis events set up to help members optimise their businesses on topics such as video production, leadership in a crisis and virtual influence.

“The pandemic has really bought the best out in our members,” said Eades. “It has been incredible to watch the sharing of information between competitors, and the genuine wish to help one another and the broader community.”

Pre-Covid, the PSA announced that the 2021 national conference would be themed “Shift” and be held in March next year in Brisbane. Instead the national conference has “shifted” to an online model next year.

“Our conference won’t just dish up the standard Zoom production that is now starting to become the new online conferencing norm,” said Eades.

“As market leaders in presentation and capturing audience attention we will push the envelope and take our convention to the next level. Setting what we hope will become a new benchmark in virtual events.”